I know we haven’t connected in awhile, and that has been entirely my fault. Remember how we first met, all those years (decades?) ago when those wonderful Sherlock Holmes stories of yours somehow, someway, were noticed by me? I really and truly fell in love with your amazing writing, and how you brought Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr. John Watson to life. And don’t even get me started with how I would constantly match wits with you Art, trying desperately to beat you (er, Holmes) at your own game, the art and science of deduction. And a few times I did beat you Art! Those were very happy times from my childhood that you provided.
Unfortunately Art, time and memory have taken their toll. Despite having devoured almost all of your 56 original short stories (and none of the books to my shame), very few details of your mysteries remain in my cerebral cortex. But darn it all, Art, I still love and cherish the bond we forged all that time ago. Over the years I would revisit you by checking out one the many adaptations they would make. At this point Art, you should be really glad you are not around this mortal plane, because a lot of these stank. Okay, I know you saw them all from some spirit realm or other that you fervently believed in, and I know the Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law version was actually not half bad. But we both can deduce the real reason I am writing to you today. And it is not to ask about your old ex-friend Houdini.
Over in your home country of Britain, The BBC have put together a most crackerjack updating and tribute to the character you grew to hate. The creative folks behind this new series have a great track record, having brought us a new Doctor Who show a few years back. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have not only read all your Holmes stories, but they also learned all the mythology behind the legend you created. Art, you will not believe the injokes, references, tributes and subtle clues these guys plant in this show.
It’s all here Art. Holmes, as brilliantly played by Benedict Cumberbatch, still lives at 221B Baker Street. And his flatmate, best friend, and confidante is still Dr. John Watson, wonderfully portrayed by Martin Freeman. Sherlock’s network of contacts you referred to as “The Irregulars” are still featured, as is Holmes very condescending attitude toward the Constabulary. You may have written these fantastic stories about a century ago, but this incarnation keeps all your original tales fresh and vital. It keeps them staying alive for this generation.
Holmes and Watson are updated somewhat, in ways you never would have imagined Art. When you entered this mortal realm in 1859, the world had never seen an airplane. By the time you went onto your next journey in 1930, radio was still in it infancy. Seventy-one years worth of change you experienced, developments you hardly ever reflected in your tales. You may have first invented the world’s greatest detective in 1887, firmly set in the Victorian age, but this one you will undoubtedly have noticed is very much in the here and now of the 21st century.
What are the changes, you want to know Art? Texting. Lots and lots of texting. Sending messages through portable phones called cells. They are all over the place in this day and age, I am sure you have noticed Art. Teens and tweens (kids aged 9 to 12) are all over this concept, like prospectors onto the Gold Rush. Sherlock and Watson text each other. Watson and Mycroft text each other. Sherlock and The Woman text each other. The only person not texting is the landlady Mrs. Hudson. More on her later, trust me. Another update is the judicious use of video over the internet. Please don’t ask me to explain this one, Art, but it is a big deal and it’s really cool. As is wi-fi.
Character changes become evident right away as well. Your creation Holmes is portrayed as a very socially awkward brilliant man who has enormous difficulties interacting with virtually everyone. His absolutely closet friend is Watson, whom he also treats very much like a brother. Mycroft, who is Sherlock’s real brother and the character you barely used, is very prominent here. I remembered you writing them as being friendly and admiring each other, not despising the others very DNA. Maybe my faulty memory is acting up Art, so forgive me.
As for Watson, here he is still a Doctor just back from war. The similarities between you and the original character are quite striking, but you never did admit to writing yourself into the stories did you? Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the two men become unlikely friends and allies, allowing Watson to begin the process of healing his psyche. Was PTSD even a medical condition in your day Art? I kinda doubt it. In your thrilling stories, Watson relayed their adventures to the eager public through The Strand magazine (all under your pen name, natch). With this reality Watson is now a blogger (yay!), chronicling everything online. Holmes has a blog as well, but no one cares. Check the Celestial Wikipedia for this one Art.
One of the biggest changes is mostly just in my head, living very comfortably as a conspiracy theory that will probably annoy you. My gut feeling, totally copyright to me and POSSIBLY A SPOILER, is that Mrs. Hudson the landlady (remember I mentioned her earlier?) is actually Sherlock and Mycroft’s mother!!! Now before you toss a Cosmic Thunderbolt or two down onto my feeble little head, the clues in this version are everywhere. Just watch, think, and deduce. Would that not be way cool Art?
Thankfully it won’t take long for your legion of fans to catch up with this rendering of Holmes and Watson. Only two seasons have been produced, each comprised of three 90-minute episodes. Whether your fans find it on BBC Canada, BBC America, dvd, or through the internet (please don’t ask Art), getting a dose of your most famous piece of imagination should be quite Elementary.
Ouch. Sorry about that Art. I will do better the next time we confer. That deduction you can count on.
P.S. All Sherlock images are copyright 2012 to the Estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.